Someday, if it hasn’t already happened, you’ll hear those dreaded words from your kid–”Mom, I hate you!”
You might be cool when it happens. You might even bake your daughter a commemorative “I Hate You” cake. You might have to leave the room so you can go scream into a pillow. No matter how you think you might react, you’d better prepare yourself now, because if you’re a good parent, the big “I hate you!” moment tends to be a when, not an if.
That’s because there are several things you will do on your way to raising a smart, self-sufficient human being that, at the time, your kid won’t get. But one day, after all is said and done, your grown son or daughter will write an article for LearnVest that says, “I owe my financial habits to my mother, and I say that with pride.”
To help you in your effort to be “totally mean” and to embrace your “ruining” their lives, here are five things that you should do with your child that will make them hate you now … and totally thank you later.
1. Deny him candy at the checkout.
Ah, your child’s first impulse purchase: Reese’s. Nerds. Gummy worms. Whatever it is, when this comes up, he might not even be old enough to say “I hate you” yet, but his tantrum will make his point clear enough.
It may be hard to remember as you’re dragging him out the front door of the store while everyone stares, but as we’ve said before, impulsivity is a trait that research has definitively connected with a poor financial future. Every time you say, “that’s not how we’re spending our money,” to an impulse purchase, whether it’s candy when they’re young or sparkly jewelry when they’re teens, you’re teaching skills that will translate to being a smart shopper later on. (Here are more tips on combating impulsiveness in your child.)
2. Shoo her outside to play.
Your kid might be annoyed at having to leave the house to find entertainment, instead of stationing herself in front of the Playstation. But turning off the TV and dragging her outdoors for at least an hour a day has numerous benefits, including lowering the likelihood of ADHD, increasing performance on standardized tests, protecting her eyesight and lowering anxiety.
Plus, you’re teaching the creativity that comes with the ability to entertain oneself for free–a skill that she will highly value later on.
3. Have him do chores for spending money.
Instead of doling out the same amount of money every week for allowance, try paying your children extra for extra chores you need done around the house, like cleaning the gutters or clearing out the garage. Also encourage him to come to you with his own ideas on what he can do around the house, and how much he thinks it’s worth to you. You’ll be helping him build entrepreneurial and negotiation skills.
4. Make her take lessons, and don’t let her quit.
It’s totally unfair, but true for at least a handful of us here on the LearnVest editorial team: We regret our parents letting us quit our lessons. Moms editor Cheryl wishes her parents hadn’t let her quit violin. Senior editor Laura is mad her parents let her quit dance. In short, we each gave our parents hell for years, but we wish they had forced us to keep going.
This isn’t just because we wish we could jam out “Piano Man” at a party on a whim. Research shows that music lessons can increase children’s IQs, improve their memory and make children more sensitive to emotional cues in speech. Participating in sports can improve self confidence and–especially in girls–improve their body image. Kids who play sports also fare better in school and are less likely to smoke, do drugs or abuse alcohol in high school.
Plus, in this election season, we especially like that Michelle Obama makes her girls choose one activity and do one that she picks out for them–so they can learn to work hard at something they don’t necessarily enjoy.
5. Let them flail … and fail.
We don’t recommend you check out completely–kids need your support. But at some point, be it when he hits calculus in high school, when he’s four states away in college or when he’s searching for his first job, you won’t be able to help him at all. So start letting him flail on small things now. Your kid might be supremely annoyed that you’ve declined to shell out $50 for diorama materials and instead made him get creative with what he could find in the craft box, or that you let the deadline go by for applying to join that elite sports team (when you clearly told him it was his responsibility), but you’re teaching him invaluable skills like creativity and the ability to get stuff done.
Research supports this view: One study showed that children who tried and failed to retrieve an answer before being told the correct response were more likely to remember the answer next time. Kids also perform better in school when they know that failure is part of learning. Try letting your child fail, but then brainstorming ways they can improve and succeed next time.